18 June 2010

Hooray for Helga

A while back I blogged about my failure learning experience with Matilda, the huge, free-range, organic chicken I bought from one of my students.  While I gained a couple of valuable nuggets of wisdom from the fiasco event, this was the ultimate outcome:

I had poured my heart and soul into the girl so I was more than a little upset.  The silver lining was that I had a standby in the freezer - Helga.  Otherwise known as bird 12978.

If you can believe it, Helga was even bigger than Matilda.  I didn't weigh the girl (1 - I don't have a food scale and 2 - I did not want to have to weigh myself in the process), but I got quite an upper body workout wrangling her today. 

Since I had a bit of a tough time with the butterflying process last time I found a video tutorial to help me out.  The guy is a little goofy, but it was a really helpful video. 

After watching it several times I felt confident and was ready to take out the backbone...with these pathetic excuses for scissors.

They didn't work and I got frustrated.  This was as far as I could get.

Enter my 'Knight in Shining Armor', R.  He immediately sensed my frustration and calmly told me to give him a couple of minutes to shower and shave and that we would head out in search of a real pair of kitchen shears for me.
I (heart) R.

Our search for good kitchen shears was a success and I was back in business. 

Although the process did not go as smoothly for me as it did for the guy in the video, I did complete the task and did not dislocate the "hip" this time. 

See what I mean about her being a big girl?

One thing Helga and I do have in common - our meaty thighs!  Check these out.  Hers, not mine. I do not take pictures of my meaty thighs, thankyouverymuch.

Now the question became "How am I going to cook her?"

Grilling was out for two reasons: 1) Both propane tanks are empty and need to be swapped out and 2) Do I really need to bring up what happened last time again?

After doing a little research I found a post on Chowhound about a recipe for roasting butterflied chickens that had been featured on America's Test Kitchen.   It received rave reviews (and that forum is a tough crowd) so I knew it must be a good recipe/method. 

Here's a quick rundown of the process with a few changes by me:

In the bottom of the broiler pan went 2 potatoes, sliced about 1/4" thick.  I also threw in an onion and some sad carrots that were hanging out in my veggie drawer.  Those were all seasoned and tossed in a little oil. 

The butterflied and seasoned chicken is placed on the grill rack that goes over the pan. 

You cook the chicken in the lower 1/3 of the oven @ 500 F for a total of about 40 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the cooking time.  You want the internal temperature of the breast to reach about 160 F. 

As the chicken fat, butter and olive oil drip off of the chicken, they drip on to the veggies below, bathing them in all sorts of yumminess.

After pulling it out of the oven loosely cover the pan with foil and let it rest for about 10 minutes.

She looks a little more well-done in parts, but I promise the bird wasn't burned or overcooked.  The skin was delightfully crispy and the meat was tender, well-flavored and incredibly juicy.  I hardly ever eat the skin on my chicken, but I devoured every bit of the skin on the breast I ate.

And the vegetables were everything I hoped they would be.  The best part is that since she was such a big bird, we'll be feasting on Helga for the next few days... maybe some empanadas, bbq pizza, chicken salad, quesadillas.  I could go on and on. 

I've already scheduled those leftover potatoes to be part of breakfast tomorrow.  Yum.

1 comment:

Robin said...

I gave up on cooking whole chickens after multiple bland tasting attempts, but am ATK recipe just might make me want to try again.